Over the last month or so I have started to get pains in my right knee after about 15+ miles in the saddle, and I am pretty sure that it is an old injury waking up. I am not sure what has caused this pain to return, but this year I have been riding more miles and more frequently than before.
So, after about 4 years of SPDs – which I really enjoy using, I have temporarily returned to using flats figuring that having more lateral movement will cure the problem and help the knee to settle down again.
I decided on the Superstar CNC Nano Tech Thru Pin Pedals and the first problem I had was; what colour? I have long maintained that black is the true colour of bling but after consulting D’Andy I made my first tentative steps into this new world and ordered a pair of gold pedals with black thru pins. I also needed new grips and so went overboard and purchased grey grips with gold lockrings as well !
They certainly stand out from the crowd, though I am not really an attention seeker, but the first thing I noticed was how narrow they were and that they had more pins than I have seen on more established makes.
They are well made, sturdy, look good, are big enough for my size 11 feet and are easy to put on using a large allen key – the largest size on my travel set, and so off I went.
But you cannot just do that can you? You need the right footwear, so after trying 4 pairs of old shoes and trainers I found something suitable – the 5.10s can wait.
For the second week running (ie the weather was cr*p on Saturday, again) I ended up doing two rides on Sunday; the first was a typical 25 mile run through the Chilterns, it was just a shame that I needed mudguards and MudXs in 80+ degrees of lovely sunshine and the second was a 16 mile, 3 pub, evening ride with my local beer buddies (who, by the way have only recently switched to SPDs after my recommendations).
I found the Nano Techs very reassuring, no problems with coming off the pedals on rocky descents and although climbing took an adjustment from my usual technique it was nothing that I could not overcome.
In fact I found riding on flats to generally to be much easier than I remembered; maybe my fitness and experience helped, but I think that their size and the position and number of pins on the pedals almost made it feel at times like I was clipped in. Best of all no knee pain.
However one thing these pedals (well any flats) soon highlight is poor technique – maybe I should report that using SPDs have hurt my limited technique. The best example was approaching a fallen branch; the front end easily cleared it but the back end just bulldozed into and over the log. Similarly taking a little air on some descents just was not happening. I used to be able to do this so what has happened? It is like I have lost all co-ordination – I need to go back to basics and relearn by jumping over sticks.
However on a more positive note I found myself cornering faster, is changing the angle of your foot making that much difference? I am not sure, but it was fun to take an off camber bend so cleanly compared to previous rides.
In summary; these are great pedals that are both sturdy and slim, look great and are good value. For a little more cash you can get the lighter Ultra Mag ones that D’Andy uses on his 605. It is my intention to switch back and forth with the SPDs after my knee settles again either to ‘ring the changes’, rest my knee or to regain/retain some techniques that are easily lost.
If you have not used flats for a few years I do recommend you go back and try them again. A few Superstar flat pedal photos are available on our Flickr site